The Eid holidays are a time of celebration – coinciding with the school holidays this year, many got the chance to spend time with their families on islands. For one family in Addu City, this Eid had special meaning – they made their dream of launching the first food truck business in the Maldives into reality.
Thafaath (meaning: unique) Food Truck is a business started by Kudhuhithige family from S. Hithadhoo. Raunaq Mohamed, one of the founders of Thafaath, spoke with Maldives Business Review about the idea behind it.
THE THAFAATH JOURNEY
“Addu is also not a social city, there is very little community engagement here. But during the pandemic, we noticed that people went out and cleaned-up spaces to develop communal beaches, and we could see the community spirit there. It shows that they want community engagement, and to be together as family in happy places. This was the boost we needed to start.” Raunaq explained.
So they brought a food truck, and designed it in their home. Raunaq’s wife Nashfa Nashid, an environmental scientist by education, and his sister Rawla Mohamed, a teacher for 12 years, worked together on hand-painting the truck with their own vision for the company.
Indeed, it’s their different backgrounds that make this a unique venture. Raunaq is a civil engineer specialising in water and sanitation, while his brother Rilwan Mohamed has a background in IT management. The final member of the team is Rilwan’s wife Amaanath, with a background in accounting and finance.
However, the team are also open to collaboration and getting in experts from different fields when they need it.
“Our menu was designed by Naju Rachey, factoring in the space we have in the small size food truck. Everything that we have is suited for the truck.” Raunaq explained. In its first weeks of operations, the food truck served chicken burgers, beef burgers, soft-shelled tacos, and hot dogs.
Items served on the menu at Thafaath Food Truck. Photos: thafaath.mv
SAVING THE PLANET ON WHEELS
Even with limited space, sustainability is a strong focus for them.
“We don’t sell water bottles, even if water bottle sales can bring in five times the profit for businesses. We provide water from a dispenser, and currently provide paper cups. We want to pass on the message that we will not produce more plastic bottles – in the next three months, we hope to stop the sale of paper cups as well by showing people how wasteful all the cups – which take energy to be produced – can be.”
Raunaq also hopes to create more opportunities for community-led conservation with the food truck, by organising beach clean-ups or hosting awareness sessions in collaboration with sustainability advocates and non-profits across the country.
“We want to be creating happily engaged community areas, and we want to provide occasion for educations.” he noted.
Their focus on sustainability and their unique energy has made them popular across locations in Addu City. With the goal of being an Addu food truck, not specific to a different island, the team travels across to different beaches throughout the week.
BUILDING COMMUNITIES STRONGER
Marketing is done through social media channels, updating their location with eye-catching infographics that showcase it’s signature street-smart understanding of community by communicating in the Addu dialect spoken by all residents fo the atoll.
The business currently serves food during the evening, but Raunaq hopes to expand business hours to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Happy customers and happy owners at Thafaath Food Truck. Photos: thafaath.mv
With a population of over 33, 000 people, Addu is the second largest city in the country – but despite this, there is very limited options for dining or socialising in the southern-most atoll. However, Raunaq believes this is changing.
“Everyone loves the truck and the food. All our reviews say the food is exemplary. We also get repeaters – sometimes four times in the same day.”
At the end of the day, the business is thafaath not only for it’s innovative approach to serving food in a local community, but also because of how it unites one family.
“We have worked in different sectors, lived in different countries, and this is the first time we get to collaborate together as a family. We get to do what we love – and everyone works really hard throughout the day, even while – in Rilwan and Amaanath’s case – bringing up a 1 year old.”
And it shows – it very much feels like the Kudhuhithige family is bringing up a community.